Volume 400 Issue 6747, 26 August 1999


  • Opinion |

    Shifts in this year's college rankings from US News & World Report ttell us a little about quality and a lot about the essentially arbitrary nature of the exercise.

  • Opinion |

    A heap of public money may be misdirected unless the developers of a new science centre see sense.


News Analysis

  • News Analysis |

    By correcting for atmospheric distortion, adaptive optics — despite some birth pains — gives telescopes a far clearer view of the Universe.

    • Tony Reichhardt

News in Brief


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    The first electron-density maps of a cell's protein-producing machinery — the ribosome — have been solved, albeit at a relatively low resolution. This breakthrough shows that high-resolution structures of the whole ribosome will soon be available.

    • Roger Garrett
  • News & Views |

    The discovery of the slowest radio pulsar — a spinning neutron star — detected so far, poses a challenge to theories of how pulsars shine. According to current thinking such a slowly rotating pulsar should not exist as an observable object.

    • Alex Wolszczan
  • News & Views |

    How do we go about picking out one particular object from a number of related ones? Do we try to find the target by moving from one object to another in turn (attending the objects in ‘series’), or do we attempt to scan them all at once (attending in parallel)? This is a long-standing controversy, and the latest studies, using event-related potentials, come down on the side of serial processing.

    • Jeremy M. Wolfe
  • News & Views |

    Iron dissolved in the sea is an essential nutrient for marine phytoplankton. Very little iron is freely available to these organisms because much of it is bound to organic compounds. Knowing how phytoplankton obtain iron from these compounds is crucial for understanding the cycling of iron in the sea.

    • Richard J. Geider
  • News & Views |

    There are two types of cholesterol. Too much ‘bad’ cholesterol, the low-density lipoprotein, is linked to coronary heart disease and stroke. By contrast, having too little ‘good’ cholesterol — the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) — is also linked to these conditions. Studies of patients with Tangier disease, who have no HDL circulating in their blood, now shed light on the mechanism of HDL metabolism.

    • James Scott
  • News & Views |

    Nine tenths of the matter in the Universe is thought to be dark matter — consisting of microscopic elementary particles or macroscopic black holes. A proposal to measure the gravitational effects of this mysterious matter on light from distant supernovae, may help distinguish between different types of dark matter.

    • Daniel E. Holz
  • News & Views |

    Guanine-nucleotide-binding proteins are molecular switches that transduce the signals received at a cell's surface to elicit a biological response from the proteins inside. There are two types of G protein — the heterotrimeric G proteins and the small GTPases. New research shows that a well-known small GTPase called Rap1 is regulated by a heterotrimeric G protein, via a GTPase-activating protein called Rap1GAPII.

    • Johannes L. Bos
    •  & Fried J. T. Zwartkruis
  • News & Views |

    To find new ways to make abrasive materials that can cut through metal and masonry, Daedalus looks for inspiration in the snowflake. The way a snowflake grows its spiky branches could be mimicked by burning metals and other compounds in air.

    • David Jones
  • News & Views |

    Eladio Viñuela: Pioneer of molecular biology in Spain

    • Jesús Ávila
    •  & Federico Mayor Jr

Millennium Essay

  • Millennium Essay |

    The techniques of perspective have achieved invisibility through omnipresence. Filippo Brunelleschi's Florentine peep-show captured the world in two dimensions and made reality virtual.

    • Martin Kemp

Scientific Correspondence

Book Review



New on the Market

  • New on the Market |

    Proteins and peptides link the following offerings. A cocktail of inhibitors aids protein isolation, and a specific inhibitor of proteasome activity makes the organelle more conducive to functional studies. Compiled in the Nature office from information provided by the manufacturers.

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